Sunday, June 17, 2012

FAQ's - Commercial Shippers

A question that we are asked regularly is for recommendations for commercial shippers.  Many of our residents are from outside our local area so we have certainly had our fair share of experience with commercial shippers through the years.  A lot of people have concerns and worries about shipping their horses commercially.  I can honestly say I don't have them.  When I ship my horses commercially, which I have done several times in the past due to long distance moves, when I have a bought a new horse that was several states away , etc. I have used a shipper that I trust.  

Quite frankly I have a lot less anxiety and more peace of mind using a trusted commercial shipper than hooking up my trailer and hauling myself when the haul is more than a few hours.  I've logged thousands and thousands of miles towing a horse trailer (easily pushing 100,000 miles at this point) and I know how many things that can go wrong that are totally out of your control as a driver.  My worst experience ever was with a drunk driver years ago and it was a nightmare. I ultimately ended up euthanizing my horse.  For hauls longer than a good day of driving or for cross country trips I am in favor of working with a good commercial shipper.  These people are pros at what they do and I like working with professionals. 

With our retirement farm I don't know how many commercial rigs have pulled  into our driveway through the years but it happens several times a year.  There was one terrible experience where the driver tried to force us to meet them at a truckstop at 2am to pick up a horse (although the horse was in fine shape on a very nice rig) but every other time has been great. Oh, and no we didn't go to the truckstop and they did deliver the horse to our farm as they were supposed to do.  That one experience aside the communication from the shippers has been good and the horses have arrived safe and sound with all of their stuff that shipped with them.  

I always hear and read about all of these nightmare stories of horses being seriously injured and the owners not being notified, or horses being on the trailer a lot longer than anticipated, but we've never had that experience.  I would like to think it is because we try to steer people to the shippers that we have had good experiences with instead of sending them off to shop around for a shipper based on price.

Here is my list of shippers that I would recommend.  To make my list they have been to our farm several times and we have had nothing but positive experiences.  There are other shippers that have been here only once and done a fine job, but I want more than one experience in order to give them a recommendation. My top two choices are as follows, and I could not possibly pick one over the other, they are both outstanding.

1.  Tapp Horse Transporation - I like Tapp so much I am going to write about them.  Bill and Lynn Tapp are based out of Kentucky.  They are far and away our preferred shipper for east coast runs (they don't generally do coast to coast runs) and they or one of their drivers have been to our farm at least 25 times over the years.  They have also hauled my horses on three occasions.  I've never had anything but a good experience with them and their drivers.  The horses always arrive in good shape, they communicate with me about what is happening and when they will arrive.  Nothing has ever gone awry when any horse coming to our farm has been on a Tapp truck, but if it were to happen then in my opinion it was unavoidable.  They are GOOD at what they do.  They don't have a website, probably because they stay so busy from referrals. You can reach Tapp at 859-873-5474

2.  Jeff Green Horse Transportation - I like Jeff so much I'm going to write about him as well.  He is based in our local area and I've known Jeff for years.  He is an excellent horseman as well as a great driver.  Like Tapp he is GOOD at what he does.  You've seen many pictures of Jeff's trailers in my moving day posts. He has top of the line equipment. We are lucky to have such a great person to work with right in our backyard. Just as with Tapp, if something were to ever be less than perfect when Jeff is hauling your horse (we've only ever experienced perfect) then it was unavoidable.  It would never occur to me to wonder if my horse was going to be mishandled in any way while on one of Jeff's trailers.  Jeff also does not have a website, again probably because he stays busy from referrals, but he does have a Facebook page (that he never updates!) with his contact information.  

From this point on this list is not in order of preference.

3.  Equine Express-; has been here a few times with horses that were making the trip to our farm from the west coast

4.  Bob Hubbard Horse Transportation -; Bob Hubbard has brought several west coast horses as well

5.  Fairway Horse Transportation -

6.  Creech Horse Transportation -

7.  Brook Ledge -

8.  Johnson Horse Transportation -

I may have left someone off this list but off the top of my head these are all shippers that have been here a few times and we've always been pleased on our end with their service.  The communicated well with us and the horses arrived in good shape.  There are some others that have been here once or twice that have done a good job but I like to have more of a history than one or two trips before making a recommendation. I hope this post was helpful to anyone looking for a commercial shipper!


Trigger, Thomas and Hemi

Chance and Leo


Chili and Lighty

Calimba, MyLight and Cinnamon

Silky and Traveller

Maisie and Lily

Asterik, George and Gus waiting to be fed

Lucky, Noble and O'Reilly

Johnny and Lighty


Bif said...

I used Bob Hubbard to ship my horse from Lexington to Seattle area and was super pleased.

I used an awesome shipper from Vermont to Ohio that even gave my horse a box (although I had paid for smaller) since they only had two horses on the trip. Sadly, I cannot remember that hauler's name. But horse arrived in TONS better shape than the haul up there in my friend's very competently driven two horse trailer, with an over night stay.

The air ride trailers are 100% the way to go for any haul more than 300 miles IMO.

HammersArk said...

I actually had a horrid experience with Bob Hubbard. I was having a horse shipped from Montana to Seattle and they had 2 unexpected overnight layovers and kept the mare at god knows where, and when I got her (3 days late) she was choking on a piece of blackberry vine that got stuck in her throat going the wrong way. The vet said is was too fresh to be more than 24hrs old. Big massive vet bill within 24hrs of officially owning that horse.

Melissa-ParadigmFarms said...

HA, you probably won't like my answer but without more information I'm not ready to blame the shipper for the delay. One time we had a horse arrive 5 days late. First the trailer got caught up in a massive traffic jam that lasted 5 hours. Then thanks to that delay they were caught in a snowstorm and needed to lay over for the storm to pass and then for the roads to get cleared. I still consider that a perfect experience for shipping the horse b/c given the circumstances it was perfectly handled and would have happened regardless of who was driving the trailer.

As far as the choke again without knowing that the shipper was negligent (they may have been) I've got to much experience to be surprised by stuff like this. Horses find amazing ways to hurt themselves and choking is just one. I guess I go back to my question of how do we know the incident could have been prevented? Maybe it was in the hay sent with the horse? It sounds like the vet said it was fresh, maybe one could argue that they didn't realize it soon enough.

Of course maybe you simply had an awful experience that was 100% avoidable and definitely the shipper's fault. Or maybe this falls into the "stuff happens all the time with horses category and no one is at fault" category. Without tons more details it is hard to say.